Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Gail Bass


Brain Injuries -- rehabilitation; Caregivers -- education; Disabled Children


Students who have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) often require assistance from a variety of professionals and staff to complete their daily routines. Frequently it is a classroom assistant (paraprofessional), under the direction of a teacher, who attends to the student's basic and daily needs. Teachers and their assistants may receive some general training, but assistants, especially, are seldom offered an opportunity to attend trainings specific to managing the needs, difficulties, and behaviors that they are likely to encounter in their students. Unfortunately, according to J. Shuiz, Training Director and Special Education Services Coordinator for Natrona County School District #1 , "Nothing is available commercially to offer training to school staff with regard to managing and helping students with traumatic brain injury in the educational setting" (personal communication, February IS, 2006).

Based on Ms. Schulz's input plus a literature search and review, this author concluded that there is a need for such a product in the educational setting. Other significant findings include the fact that pediatric brain injury is a major public health concern (Yeates in Ward, Shum, Dick, McKinlay, & Baker-Tweeney, 2003); that older children ages 14-18 with TBl demonstrate a greater number of behaviors (Poggi, et al., 2003); students experience social barriers in school and structured community events there are inadequate or nonexistent programs at school (Bedell & Dumas, 2004); and families encounter many problems associated with lack of information (Wade, Taylor, Drotar, Stancin, Yeates, & Minich 2003).

The purpose of this project is to develop training modules for teachers and assistants that are based on the principals of adult learning and that contain material they can use to better understand and serve their students with brain injury. The first training module gives the participants a general overview of TBI and the impact it can have on a student. Information included in the consecutive training modules addresses the most commonly found difficulties that are experienced by adolescent students who have a diagnosis of TB!. The difficulties that were identified included: memory, sensory integration, behavior, and social issues. A section on family concerns was included because the family situation can directly affect the student's state of mind and physical condition. A description of occupational therapy assessment is included so that staff can leam about factors that support educational efforts such as sensory integration, visual perception, and functional skills. The theory of Occupational Adaptation (Kramer, Hinojosa, & Brasic-Royeen, 2003) was a foundational guide for the project. Its emphasis on adaptive capacity, or a person's ability to recognize a need for change, fits ideally with the acquisition of new knowledge that the target audience will receive.

It is recommended that the project be implemented, and data collected from the pre- and post-test information presented on each module. A follow-up survey could be used to further refine and expand the training modules. In the future, information regarding additional deficits such as motor problems could be added, as well as sections to help more severely impaired students